As more and more teachers are turning to online teaching and distance learning for the forseeable future, and students may be considering self-study options, I’d like to introduce our free prompt generating tool, English Prompts, with three different kinds of prompts: creative writing, speaking, and role-plays.

The first, Stories Without End, generates a random short story prompt that ends on a cliff-hanger. The genres vary from horror to comedy to sci-fi to realistic fiction, so there’s a broad range of topics. Don’t like the story? Click “New Story”! Here are some ideas to use it with students:

  • Have students work as a group to brainstorm story ending ideas, then write a joint story.
  • As a class, come up with a list of 5-10 questions they think the story ending should address. Then students can individually pick 2-3 questions to guide their story ending.
  • Students can also generate and answer questions as a group.
  • Have students each write an ending, then share them anonymously. Students read the other endings and vote on the best one.
  • Have students write another paragraph and then swap papers. They then write another paragraph that follows from what the previous student wrote. The second student can end the story or students can swap again and keep adding paragraphs till they reach a logical conclusion.
  • Got lower level students? They can read or tell their story idea rather than writing it. You can even have them draw a picture or storyboard their idea, then label or write an outline, and then tell it.

Next, What Would You Do? prompts are a collection of hypothetical situations that students answer by telling what they would do in those situations. Some are realistic, some are ridiculous, and some are somewhere in-between. Get a new random situation by clicking “There are a lot of ways to use this flexible resource:

  • Think of contextual questions that might change students’ answers. Would you return a stolen wallet full of cash? What if you were homeless and needed the money? What if you saw the person who dropped it?
  • Or have students think of contexts where they would do different actions.
  • Have a debate where students argue the pluses and minuses of different situations.
  • Have students use them as story prompts to write a short story highlighting the situation and their chosen response.
  • Ask students to predict what their classmates would do in different situations, then do a survey.
  • Have students interview friends or family members or put a poll online and then tally up the results and report on what they learned.
  • Get students to come up with their own WWYD?s.
  • Watch the show What Would You Do? on ABC (episodes can be found on Youtube) and get them to predict what people would do or discuss how people did react and why.

Looking to do some acting? Start a Scene is an improv or role-play prompt generator. Click “New Line” and get a first line of a dramatic scene. Students can use that to improvise or write a conversation or situation. To make it even more useful, you can also click on the “New Emotion” button and get an emotion to say the line with. This helps draw students’ attention to the way that we use our voices and bodies to show feeling or attitude. It also helps students think about pragmatics. We speak differently to angry people than happy people. If someone says something ironically, we react in a whole other way!Use these prompts to:

  • Generate an improv or role-play, written or spoken.
  • Ask students to practice saying a line with an emotion while others guess and/or discuss how well the actor did.
  • Try the same line with different emotions and talk about how the meaning changes with the attitude.
  • Describe the situation. Who is speaking? To whom? Where are they? What do they want?
  • Assign inappropriate emotions to lines. Have someone say, “I love you” as if they have the giggles, for example!

Hope you enjoy this tool and we’re always open to hearing what kinds of new features you’d like to see!

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